Project LeadershipProject Management

Kill the ‘Zombie Effect’ in Projects

Most project managers are theoretically trained about the operational structure of projects before they initiate their career as a PM. They are made to believe that all projects have an initial phase, followed by an intermediary execution stage and a closure phase in the end. However, this picture is rarely true. Many projects run with nil foresight of a closure phase. Thus, they tend to have numerous scope changes and resource requirements along the course. Such projects are termed as zombie projects.

In this article at Girl’s Guide to PM, Elizabeth Harrin explains that people leading such zombie projects turn into operational leaders rather than project managers. Reason being that they keep managing never-ending tasks rather than leading a systematic process.

Is It A Zombie Project?

Operational work is a part of every project. Thus, people might wonder how to differentiate zombie projects. Day-to-day operational activities cannot be used to demarcate zombie projects. Zombie projects are the ones that lack structure, management, supervision, and control. Sometimes, they only keep consuming valuable resources without any direction or outcome.

How to Kill Them?

Harrin quotes a case study by Derek Huether, an enterprise Agile coach and trainer, who worked as an advisor to a U.S. Government PMO. Derek identified a small zombie project in the department. To counter the zombie effect, he used agile principles to establish a cross-functional team. Thereafter, he conducted daily stand-ups, discussed previous and future workflow, etc. to regulate the project. This approach helped him to estimate a likely closure date for the project.

Harrin states that being a project manager, it becomes your job to challenge anything that seems off-track, encourage new ideas, take ownership, and suggest improvement plans.

To read the original article in detail, click on the following link:

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